Somber memorials on anniversary of Florida nightclub rampage

Florida’s two Republican U.S. senators introduced a resolution honouring the 49 people killed on Latin night

Three years after a gunman massacred 49 people and wounded many others at a gay nightclub in Florida, the anniversary was observed Wednesday with sombre memorial gatherings and proclamations, including one that had to be issued twice.

In a proclamation, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered state flags to be lowered to half staff and asked Floridians to pause to remember the victims of the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. But he initially made no mention of the gay or Hispanic communities in the proclamation honouring the 49 club-goers who were killed on Latin night in the deadliest attack on gay people in the U.S.

Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orange County criticized the Republican governor for the omission, calling the proclamation, “straight-washed.”

DeSantis later tweeted that the state mourns the loss of life from the attack that “targeted the LGBTQ and Hispanic community, and Florida as a whole.”

READ MORE: Widow of Orlando gunman acquitted in nightclub shooting

Several hours later, his office issued a “corrected version” of the proclamation that said Florida wouldn’t tolerate hate toward the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.

“Staff made an error in the previous version. The governor has directed that the proclamation be re-issued, including a direct reference to our LGBTQ and Hispanic communities,” said Helen Aguirre Ferre, the governor’s communications director, in an email accompanying the revised proclamation. “The governor stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities who were attacked during this horrific act of violence at Pulse three years ago today.”

When asked about the omission at a bill signing in Jacksonville, the governor said he wasn’t involved in drafting the original proclamation.

“When someone said that this wasn’t in there, I said, ‘Well, then put it in there.’ So we fixed it,” DeSantis said. “Obviously, we flew the flags at half staff and that was the reason we put out the proclamation. Sometimes these things happen and you’ve just got to correct it.”

Later in the day, DeSantis and his wife, Casey, visited Pulse and laid bouquets of flowers outside the nightclub.

In the U.S. Senate, Florida’s two Republican U.S. senators introduced a resolution honouring the 49 people killed on Latin night. The resolution, which passed with unanimous consent, noted that the massacre was “an attack on LGBTQ community, the Hispanic community, the city of Orlando, the state of Florida and the United States.”

Gunman Omar Mateen was killed after a three-hour standoff by SWAT team members. He had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. At the time, the Pulse massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. However, another mass shooting the following year along the Las Vegas Strip became the deadliest when 58 people were killed.

In Orlando, churches were ringing bells 49 times at noon, names of the slain were read at a midday church service in downtown Orlando and a Wednesday night memorial service was planned outside the Pulse nightclub, which has been closed since the shooting in June 2016.

Some survivors and friends gathered at the club shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday to mark the exact time the shooting started.

Pulse owner Barbara Poma has established a non-profit to open a memorial and museum at the site. About $14 million has been raised for the $50 million project. Six design firms have been selected as finalists and the winner will be chosen in the fall. The permanent memorial and museum are scheduled to open in 2022.

Mike Schneider, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Influx of tourists helping to nurse Penticton’s economy back to health

The city has seen visitors multiply tenfold in recent weeks

Two vehicle crash on Highway 97 in Penticton

The crash happened before 3:30 p.m. in front of the Lakeside Inn and Suites

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department receives $25k grant

Money used on a truck with low volume, high pressure water pump to fight wildfires

Ryga Arts Festival to include virtual and in-person events

Arts festival in Summerland will run from Aug. 15 to 23

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Summerland Blossom Youth Ambassador Program to hold coronation

Event will be held by video as a result of COVID-19 precautions

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Couple shaken up after homophobic encounter at Kelowna mall

‘We’re not in the States; we’re not in some little hick town; we’re in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. And it still happens’

Summerland to allow in-person attendance at July 13 council meetings

Two meetings will be held at Summerland Arena Banquet Room to accommodate public

Fundraiser kicks off for Lake Country families displaced by house fire

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $5K for those who lost everything in early morning blaze

Most Read